A dowry is a payment, such as property or money, paid by the bride’s family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. Dowry contrasts with the related concepts of bride price and dower. While bride price or bride service is a payment by the groom, or his family, to the bride, or her family, dowry is the wealth transferred from the bride, or her family, to the groom, or his family.

In cases of dowry it is important to know that giving or taking dowry is illegal and that can be punished under law.

6 steps to remember while dealing with a dowry petition before marriage-

*Asking of dowry is a crime even before the marriage and Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 will be applicable on these cases also.

*Taking or giving of a dowry is also a crime and punishable on both the parties.

*In case of a dowry demand, immediately report to the nearest police station under the jurisdiction of the place where the said demand is made.

*Try to get as many evidences as you can, like maybe audio-video recordings, witnesses.

*You can report the matter to a judicial Magistrate/ Metropolitan Magistrate by making an application under section 156(3) read with section 190 of Code of Criminal Procedure, if the police does  not register the same.

*You can also report the matter to the Dowry Protection Officer. You can know about the DPO of your area by contacting the family court of your district.

Who can apply for police complaint?


**Parents or other relatives of such person,

Recognized welfare institutions or organizations,

*As it is cognizable offence, so an action against it can be taken either by a metropolitan magistrates or magistrates of the first class on its own.

You can file a dowry case even before your marriage-

Where the would-be-husband/ in-laws have demanded for dowry.

You can also register a case under the jurisdiction of the police station as to where you reside, but for that you need to prove that the demand was made at your place.

5 steps to follow when a police officer does not register your case:

*Try to get the reason for not registering the complaint in written.

*Report the matter to his senior. Report it to the SP of district the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) or the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

*Approach media to put pressure on the authorities.

*Approach local NGOs, human rights activists, etc.

*If any of the above does not work, then the last and final solution will be to approach the court. Make an application under section 156(3) read with section 190 of Code of Criminal Procedure to a judicial Magistrate/ Metropolitan Magistrate thereby asking the police to register the FIR. 

If your husband or his in-laws or his relatives try to harm you or injure you either physically, mentally, emotional or economically for the want of dowry, then you can file a case of dowry demand under section 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 along with section 498a of Indian Penal Code, 1860. You can also present an application to the magistrate under section 12 of The Protection of Women from the Domestic Violence act, 2005. The magistrate will dispose off the matter within 60 days of the first hearing and also appoint a protection officer.

Place of registration for dowry case post marriage can file a dowry case:

*Where the cause of action has taken place, i.e. where the demand was made, or

*Where you last lived with your husband or

*At the place of your maternal parents.

The allegation of dowry is a serious one, where the punishment is for a minimum term of 5 years. Though you always have an option of fighting your own case, we suggest you to hire an advocate to guide you through the legal procedures and technicalities.

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